Whistleblower McBride Sentenced to 5 Yrs., 8 Mos.

BREAKING: A vindictive judge in Canberra has thrown the book at a man who revealed war crimes by the Australian military in Afghanistan.

McBride leaving Supreme Court during break in his trial in November 2023. (Cathy Vogan/Consortium News)

By Joe Lauria in Washington
Cathy Vogan in Canberra
Special to Consortium News

A federal judge in Canberra, the Australian capital, has sentenced military whistleblower David McBride to nearly six years in prison for leaking classified material to the media that revealed Australian war crimes in Afghanistan. 

Supreme Court Justice David Massop ruled on Tuesday morning local time that “only a prison sentence is appropriate,” and handed down 68 months —  5 years and 8 months. 

Consortium News‘ Cathy Vogan, who is inside the courtroom, reported that McBride “will go to jail until 2030. He is led out of the court by three policemen. A woman takes his dog.”

McBride’s solicitor Mark Davis said they will appeal the severity of the sentence and the circumstances of his trial that forced McBride to plead guilty, namely the ruling out of a public interest defence and the removal of evidence from the court that would have enabled him to defend himself.

Mossop told the court at sentencing that McBride, 60, thought he knew better than the ADF. “It is imperative that others be generally deterred from holding such attitudes,” he said. McBride will only be eligible for parole after two years and three months. Mark Davis, an attorney for McBride, said they would appeal the sentence.

Listen to an exclusive CN interview with McBride lawyer Mark Davis moments after the sentence was announced:

“Obviously devastated as most people in this room were,” Davis told CN. “A pretty vicious judgement.” Davis called it an “extremely heavy sentence” particularly since the government “conceded” McBride “caused no harm” and it did not personally benefit him. 

“We are horrified, frankly,” said Davis. “Whatever happened today we are appealing.”  In the street outside the courthouse, Davis said:

“It’s an issue of international importance that a Western nation has such a narrow definition of duty. We say David McBride fulfilled his duty and he wished to put it to a jury that he conducted himself according to the oath he gave to his nation.”

A former military lawyer, McBride was charged with stealing government documents and giving them to journalists at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which revealed covered-up murders of unarmed civilians by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.  A four-year government inquiry later found 23 possible war crimes, including the murder of 39 Afghan civilians. 

McBride’s defense had rested on the court accepting his argument that his oath to the British crown gave him a duty beyond obedience to military orders to instead inform the entire nation of government wrongdoing. His lawyers also invoked the Nuremberg principles in which it is a soldiers’ duty to break an oath to report serious crimes.

But Justice Mossop refused that defense. “There is no aspect of duty that allows the accused to act in the public interest contrary to a lawful order,” he told the court in November.

McBride’s legal team tried to appeal that decision, but its application was denied by Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum. On the same day in November Mossop ordered that agents of the Attorney General’s office could remove classified documents from the defense’s possession, which McBride’s team had intended to present to the jury.  

Because of those regressive rulings, McBride accepted his attorneys’ advice that, left with no viable defense, he should plead guilty.   

After a day-long sentencing hearing on May 6, court reassembled Tuesday morning to hear Mossop’s decision. 

McBride’s lawyers had argued for leniency because of post traumatic stress disorder, and because he believed he was doing the right thing in informing the Australian public of its military’s wrongdoing.    

WATCH: CN Live! — Whistleblower David McBride ‘Followed the Law’ But Will Be Sentenced Tuesday

Whether McBride’s actions had caused harm was central to his sentence. His lawyers argued until the end on Tuesday that there was  no evidence of harm and that the risk was minimal because he had given the material to professional journalists.

But Mossop ruled Tuesday that the “nature of the offending, harm,” and a “lack of contrition all give rise to the need to give general deterrence – to prevent any further disclosures of this kind.”

The judge quoted McBride as saying: “I never said I would coverup crimes for the government.”  Mossop told the court that McBride accessed documents and stored them in a personal folder. “He then removed this information – some 237 docs, 209 of which were classified ‘Secret” – and took them home,” the judge said.

The Australian Federal Police “seized the documents from his home, giving rise to the charge of theft.”

The judge said McBride’s lawyers argued his motivation was neither financial gain, nor to aid Australia’s enemies. that he believed he was not committing an offence.

Mossop said McBride admitted to taking the documents but in pursuit of a legal aim – within the Protective Disclosure Act, that McBride claimed he had a legal obligation to disclose.  “He showed no remorse,” the judge said.

After relating the history of the Australian Defence Act, which has changed much over the decades since 1914, Mossop said life imprisonment would be inappropriate for McBride, but that two years in jail could be.

Instead, after talking about McBride’s obligations to follow orders and keep official secrets, Mossop came down with a much harsher sentence, one that, given the circumstances, could be called draconian.

Read Consortium News‘ live tweets Tuesday from inside the courtroom.

This is a breaking story. Please come back for updates. 

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31 comments for “Whistleblower McBride Sentenced to 5 Yrs., 8 Mos.

  1. Alice Darwin
    May 15, 2024 at 17:59

    This is not what democracy looks like.
    This is not what freedom looks like.

    We, Americans and Aussies, are told that we must give all domestic spending and if necessary our lives and our children’s lives to this war. We are told that this war is for democracy and freedom and against authoritarian rule. And yet, when the crimes of a brutal war are exposed in a democracy, it is the whistle-blower who goes to prison.

    Be careful about giving up everything you have to defend democracy and freedom, when the government acts much more like an authoritarian military state where the military is above the law. Giving up everything, all prosperity, everything, including our lives, in a war to maintain authoritarianism that only lies about democracy and freedom, well, that would not be very smart … but it would be very English, in the old phrase “ours is but to do and die, ours is not to wonder why.” Or apparently in any way to question the upper classes that rule us. Just die, and die poor.

  2. Patrick Powers
    May 15, 2024 at 17:29

    Of course he went to prison. Exposure of war crimes threatens the very foundation of our society.

  3. Jeff
    May 15, 2024 at 02:15

    Clearly a Kangaroo Court with David Massop as Chief Kangaroo.

    • Graeme
      May 15, 2024 at 21:25

      John Queripel has written the following, part of a longer article”

      A legal ruling in Australia this week sentencing military whistleblower David McBride to 5 years imprisonment for disobeying orders to expose war crimes has stood the principles established at the Nuremberg trials on its head.

      The only duty a soldier has is to follow orders whatever those orders may be. There is no higher obligation, and to think there is is to be accused of the arrogance of ‘knowing best.’ One must ‘operate within the constraints of the organisation,’ and those that do not, ‘must know that breaching their legal obligations … will be met by significant punishment.’ These are the words of Supreme Court Justice David Mossop in sentencing McBride.


  4. May 15, 2024 at 01:30

    Mossop told the court at sentencing that McBride, 60, thought he knew better than the ADF. “It is imperative that others be generally deterred from holding such attitudes,” he said.

    Ah yes, those in authority over a person are always right, and one must never be allowed to question or challenge them or to presume that one might know more than they do, or that one might be in the right and those in authority might actually be in the wrong.

    An abusive or controlling or narcissistic parent. A difficult and overbearing boss. Or a difficult and overbearing teacher or professor or school officials.

    Or one’s military superiors, or a military body such as the Australian Defense Force.

    Or the Pope, who according to Catholic dogma is infallible. Or the BIBLE, the supposed “inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God”. One must not question the “Word of God”. Evolution must be wrong because it goes against what is taught in the “Word of God”. One must not presume to know better than God, meaning what God has revealed in his “Word”.

    • May 15, 2024 at 14:39

      Oops, let us not forget about the medieval Catholic Church and the Inquisition. Giordano Bruno was burned alive by the Church in 1600 for expressing both some cosmological theories and some theological beliefs which went against God — NO, against the long accepted and unquestioned teachings of the Church. And of course Galileo was investigated and later tried by the Roman Inquisition for teaching heliocentrism, and was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, and was forced to recant and to spend the rest of his life under house arrest.

      How dare Giordano Bruno and Galileo presume they know better than the Roman Catholic Church, which is tantamount to presuming they know better than God.

      Judge David Massop stands in line with the Roman Catholic inquisitors who brutally murdered (i.e. executed by burning alive) Giordano Bruno and who condemned Galileo.

  5. Eric Arthur Blair
    May 15, 2024 at 00:08

    David Mcbride was rebuffed when he tried to raise concerns internally within the Oz military, regarding the murder of innocent Afghan civilians by Australian soldiers. As a person of conscience he was then forced to send information to the Press to protect future innocents.
    In a sick perversion of justice, the Australian Kangaroo courts have sentenced him to almost 6 years in prison.
    Modern Oz “law”: persecute and prosecute honourable and ethical people, while war criminals go free.

  6. Dozer1
    May 14, 2024 at 23:17

    This is Lt William Calley (My Lai massacre) all over again. “Lawful” orders? To slaughter people?

    “But Justice Mossop refused that defense. ‘There is no aspect of duty that allows the accused to act in the public interest contrary to a lawful order,’ he told the court in November. Hence, it is unlawful to disobey an order to do something unlawful. Like Alice in Wonderland.

    This is why the “justice” system in the West is the most heinous of all the systems (executive, judicial, law making). The elites will bribe, blackmail, or threaten a judge to get what they pay for. Appeal the sentence, and it gets worse, as they (superior judges) are closer to the ruling class. We see this with Assange and many others.

    • Alice Darwin
      May 15, 2024 at 18:03

      A government that says there is no duty to act in the public interest, is not fit for purpose. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clearer statement that says that government acts for the rich and powerful. Americans once knew what to do with such a government. Unfortunately, the Aussies never had the gumption. But in these times, these English attitudes that say that we all exist to die for the King and the Rich appear to rule in both places.

  7. WillD
    May 14, 2024 at 22:03

    “thought he knew better than the ADF”. Clearly he did know better – that committing war crimes WAS/ and is illegal! He deserves a medal, not prison.

    Better still, the judge should be punished for his moral cowardice.

  8. Graeme
    May 14, 2024 at 21:08

    PM Albanese and his government chose to continue the prosecution of David McBride.
    They could have withdrawn the charges.

    Instead, they pursued McBride on charges very similar to what the US is persecuting Julian Assange for.

    Wonder if Biden will notice the hypocrisy?

  9. LeoSun
    May 14, 2024 at 13:47

    Imo, “WHAT “Fornication Under the Consent of the King”aroo, down under, looks like, in the 21st Century:

    “In order to kill the idea it is necessary to attack the man,” i.e., “Mossop ruled Tuesday that the “nature of the offending, harm,” and a “lack of contrition all give rise to the need to give general deterrence – to prevent any further disclosures of this kind.”

    ………. “WELCOME, to the 21st Century’s F*-*ING Club, same as the old “Club;” wherein strict adherence to “a code of laws made by Draco, a famous lawgiver of Athens 621 b.c. ,” rules! The “measures were so severe that they were said to be written in letters of blood;” rigorous, unusually severe, cruel.”

    Per Judge Mossop: “life imprisonment would be inappropriate for McBride; [BUT], “that two years in jail could be.” Followed by, Judge Mossop’s kiss of death: “only a prison sentence is appropriate,” I.E., “Sixty-Eight (68) Months!!! [NEARLY], six years in prison for leaking classified material to the media that revealed Australian war crimes in Afghanistan.”

    …… “Power is a thing of perception. They don’t need to be able to kill you. They just need you to think they are able to kill you.” Julian Assange

    Per the judge, the jury, the executioner aka Judge Mossop, DAVID MCBRIDE’S “obligation [IS] to follow orders [AND] keep official secrets,”

    ……..“There is no aspect of duty that allows the accused to act in the public interest contrary to a lawful order,” Judge David Mossop’s source, the “Australian Defence Act, of 1914,” which has changed much over the decades.” Mossop said.

    BASICALLY, Mossop’s judgment is f/f.u.b.a.r!!! Onward & Upwards w/Rejecting, Resisting, Repealing Mossop’s Judgement & Inhumanity, separating McBride from his Dog, Family, Friends. Dismissing McBride’s Defence. Everybody, knows, NEEDED, Solidarity NOT Tears! But this heart- f/wrenching!

    ……… “The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I cannot escape the sound of suffering.” Julian Assange

    Once, again, “we, the people” witness “A Murder of One,” One for Sorrow. Two for Joy. Three for Girls. Four for Boys. Five for Silver. Six for Gold. Seven for the secrets, never to be told.” Counting Crows

    Onward & Upwards, APPEAL!” “Keep It Lit!”

    • Valerie
      May 14, 2024 at 16:29

      I wonder LeoSun if you can be tried for the same crime twice? If not, then Mr. McBride should take out a full page exposure in a newspaper, of the Australian war crimes, after his release. I hope his dog gets visiting rights whilst he is unjustly incarcerated.

      • LeoSun
        May 15, 2024 at 10:37

        Hello, Valerie!!!

        imo, “One Nation under $atan (AUKUS),” NO Doubt about it!!! would do it over & over, willfully drilling their dirty, grubby, infected, bloody dagger into the heart & soul of any Nation’s Constitution that f/with $atan’s “foreign & domestic” policy, *“Kill, first. Think, later.”

        ……… “A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result,” Neil Gorsuch

        “DON’T GET PLAYED…….”

        “Sometimes, you can be tried twice for the same crime, Supreme Court rules,” 6.17.19 hxxps://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-double-jeopardy-20190617-story.html

        …. Reporting from Washington — “The [U.S.] Constitution is commonly said to protect Americans from double jeopardy — that is, being tried twice for the same crime. [BUT] the Supreme Court on Monday reaffirmed its view that this promise comes with a major exception. The court ruled that, because a state and the federal government are separate “sovereigns,” each is free to prosecute a violation of one of its laws, even if they overlap.”

        …. THE 5TH AMENDMENT-The double jeopardy clause in the U.S. Constitution states that no person shall “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb.” This prevents the government from prosecuting criminal defendants more than once for the same offense.” https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-rights/double-jeopardy-what-constitutes-the-same-offense.html

        “Down Under.” Queensland, 11.28.23 @

        Double Jeopardy Laws’ Expansion thereto: “The first is that a person acquitted of murder can only be retried if fresh and compelling evidence comes to light and it is in the interest of justice. Fresh evidence means it was not presented at the original trial and compelling means it is reliable and substantial.

        The second is the court may order a person be retried for a “25-year offence” — meaning a crime punishable by imprisonment for life or for a period of 25 years or more — if their acquittal was tainted. A tainted acquittal occurs where the person was not convicted of a crime because an administration of justice offence was committed such as perjury, bribery, witness or juror intimidation or attempting to pervert the course of justice.”

        “There are 8 ways to get from Sydney to Queensland by plane, tram, train, bus or car,” however, VALERIE, ya nailed it, message the universe via the Front Page of every Newspaper’s headline, delivered in a nano second, oughta read, imo, “ AUKUS, David McBride & The Beast.” NO ONE Is SAFE; Hence, Next Stop, The Appellate Court to APPEAL Mossop’s f.u.b.a.r., judgment!

        Indeed, fingers crossed, David’s pup (dog), no doubt, “the love of his life,” gets to visit, often!!! “Keep It Lit!”

        *Joe Biden Owns This,” Andrew Mitrovica @ hxxps://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2023/10/19/joe-biden-owns-this

        • Valerie
          May 16, 2024 at 17:36

          “double jeopardy” I always associate that expression with a very odious game show. (Twice)

          “There are 8 ways to get from Sydney to Queensland by plane, tram, train, bus or car,”

          And “50 ways to leave your lover”.

          “AUKUS, David McBride & The Beast.” NO ONE Is SAFE; Hence, Next Stop, The Appellate Court to APPEAL Mossop’s f.u.b.a.r., judgment!”

          Appealing has duel connotations. It might be better to call it appalling. As in the fact that it is appalling Mr. McBride and Julian Assange are incarcerated for truth telling and having to appeal their unwarranted sentence.

          The photo in the link says it all.

          Thankyou LeoSun. You’re one of the greats.

          • LeoSun
            May 16, 2024 at 21:03

            Awh, Valerie, back-atcha, I’m NOT alone. You too, are one of the greats!” I couldn’t be here w/o you, the Readership, &, of course, Consortium News dot com. Imo, the planet’s, Number #1, resource for a spot f/on perspective of the news, the blues & the future!! “L O N G Live, Consortium News!”

            “Once, again, VALERIE, ya called it, “Appealing has duel connotations. It might be better to call it appalling.” TY! I, LeoSun, second that emotion!!! “Keep It Lit!” Ciao

  10. Steve Hill
    May 14, 2024 at 13:43

    This kind of thing has become a trend more and more with so called “representative governments” all over the world. We are entering what I fear is a totalitarian phase in history. The masks are coming off of politicians everywhere.

  11. CaseyG
    May 14, 2024 at 12:55

    Oh my, well that Judge is the one who should be locked up.

  12. Selina Sweet
    May 14, 2024 at 12:24

    McBride’s tattoo on the back of his left hand and his cool glasses and his hutzpah to serve with his all – justice – altogether set up this particular judge to clench his/her teeth in reactive consternation that such authenticity be allowed in society. Too many individuals acting upon truth in the cause of justice for all could make society run riot – and we need to
    CONTROL them at any cost! Stuff their kind in prison! How dare they serve the people! Make them bend their f…en knee!

  13. Tobin Sterritt
    May 14, 2024 at 12:19

    Showing remorse implies evidence of conscience. What remorse did the Australian government display in expecting McBride to keep mum on the crimes he revealed?

  14. May 14, 2024 at 11:52

    The US, UK cancer impacting freedom of the press has obviously spread to Australia, and it’s terminal. It has also destroyed the integrity of the judiciary.

    • Tara
      May 14, 2024 at 22:04

      Unfortunately, nothing to spread. Australia has always been subservient to the US and UK – it does not possess a single independent bone in its political body (never mind the Tories, see ALP leaders and Prime Ministers after Gough Whitlam)…

      As for freedom of the press? The media, under the likes of Murdoch, plays a big role in how the country is governed by spreading lies, disinformation and generally being divisive.

  15. Steve
    May 14, 2024 at 10:52

    Australian justice, Assange style.

  16. joe jacovino
    May 14, 2024 at 09:39

    frankly find it horrifying that exposing a crime becomes a crime, but the exposed crime is left unaccounted , the world has gone completely mad

  17. saurabh
    May 14, 2024 at 09:23

    Remorse? He should be proud.

  18. Lois Gagnon
    May 14, 2024 at 08:53

    One more example of the corruption that has infected the Western judicial system.

  19. susan
    May 14, 2024 at 07:53

    Absolutely ludicrous! David McBride may serve time in prison for telling the truth for the greater good while war crimes against humanity continue by the west in Palestine. Where is the JUSTICE in that?

  20. Jeff Harrison
    May 14, 2024 at 01:03

    Frankly, if I was Mr. McBride, I would have said to the “judge”, I refuse to participate in this farce of a kangaroo court. Do whatever you like. I deny you the authority to judge me. May you burn in hell.

  21. James1
    May 13, 2024 at 23:47

    As an Australian I applaud David McBride for his courage & I despise the criminal Judge & hope he gets his due deserts.

  22. Andrew Nichols
    May 13, 2024 at 22:39

    War crimes OK …only following orders…
    Exposing war crimes Jail..not following orders.
    National security risk = reputational embarrassment.
    Just shows more than ever that Nuremberg was victors justice.

    • Rafael
      May 14, 2024 at 00:14

      Quite true! If we focus on the roles of the US and UK in the Nuernberg trials, we can characterize them succinctly as proceedings in which the stronger imperialists punished the weaker ones for insubordination. (The anti-imperialist USSR remained to be dealt with later.)

      As Carlin remarked, the Germans lost the war but the fascists won it. To take just one example, what was “shock and awe” but Guernica magnified a hundredfold?

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